*** E is for Emergency Stop ***
Updated: Apr 2, 2021
The emergency stop, also known as the controlled stop, is often practised during driving lessons. This involves simulating an emergency situation and getting the student to stop as quickly and as safely as possible. It could be that a pedestrian has suddenly walked out on you, or a car has pulled out on you.
How is it performed on a test?
Your examiner will pull you over at the side of the road and explain what they are going to do. They won’t just suddenly shout STOP whilst you’re driving along and expect you to stop!
They will choose a safe, quiet road for you to do this on, although the speed limit could be anything.
They will explain that they would like you to do an emergency stop and that the signal they give will be by raising their right hand and saying ‘STOP’.
They will ask you to drive on when you’re ready.
The examiner will look around, and then give you the STOP signal.
You will be expected to react quickly and safely.
Once you’ve stopped the examiner will ask you to drive on again, and you will not be asked to do the emergency stop again.
1 in 3 tests does the emergency stop – so it’s not a definite that you’ll get the emergency stop on your test. However, it is good to practice this with your instructor so that you are prepared – and in case it happens for real one day!
How to perform an emergency stop:
The highway code states, "In an emergency, brake immediately. Try to avoid braking so harshly that you lock your wheels. Locked wheels can lead to loss of control."
First, it’s important to note that you do not need to check your mirrors in an emergency stop. Looking in your mirror will waste valuable time when you should be braking – if you’ve been using your mirrors regularly you should know what’s behind you.
When you are given the STOP signal, you must react quickly and brake firmly, keeping two hands on the steering wheel
Once you’ve come to a complete stop, ensure you do not allow the car to roll (apply your handbrake, and select neutral).
Remember to move off safely – including checking all around you – blind spots and mirrors, etc.
Antilock Braking Systems (ABS)
If your vehicle is fitted with ABS brakes, the system activates automatically under conditions of harsh braking.
ABS employs wheel-speed sensors to anticipate when a wheel is about to lock under extreme braking. Just before the wheels begin to lock, the system releases the brakes momentarily before automatically reapplying them. This cycle is repeated several times a second to maximise braking performance, sending a pulsing sensation through the brake pedal. You may find this a little disconcerting the first time it occurs and you may be tempted to respond by relaxing the pressure on the brake pedal. However, it is important that maximum pressure is maintained.
ABS does not necessarily reduce your stopping distance, but because the wheels are prevented from locking, you can continue to steer, something you would not be able to do if the wheels were locked.
Reducing the pressure or pumping the brake pedal reduces the effectiveness of the system. The pressure on the brake pedal must be maintained until the hazard is safely avoided.
Knowing ABS will help you stop safely should not encourage you to drive less carefully. ABS cannot overcome the laws of physics, it's still possible for one or more of the tyres to skid because of:
Poor road contact
Loose road surface.
ABS will enhance your skills, NOT replace them.
Driving the Essential Skills says the following;
Always keep both hands on the steering wheel. You need as much control as possible.
Avoid braking so hard that you lock any of the wheels. A skid may cause a serious loss of control.
Don’t press down on the clutch pedal until just before you stop. This helps with your braking and stability.
Don’t use the parking brake while the vehicle is moving. Most parking brakes work on the back wheels only. Extra braking on the back wheels can cause skidding.
Don’t give a signal – you need both hands to control your steering (and your brake lights will come on at the rear to signal to people behind that you are braking anyway).
Stop as quickly and as safely as possible, keeping your vehicle under full control.
You can try and avoid the risk of needing to brake in an emergency. If you are planning well ahead, you will be aware of what’s going on around you.
Look out for children playing, pedestrians emerging from behind vehicles, especially vans, be aware of school times, and telltale signs such as a ball rolling into the road – children will follow it! Also, drive at a speed in which you can stop safely in the distance you can see to be clear.
*Sections reproduced with the kind permission of Mercury Driving School